When I was younger, I used to ride horses. Every Saturday, my mother would drive us out to the stables and wait while I took lessons. My parents were always waiting for me while I learned new things. They did it silently, and honorably, and without proper thanks. This is what people do for those they love.
The first time I ever got to ride outside, away from the confined ring of the stables with its little jumps and man-made obstacles, I rode a horse named Tarzan. He was properly named. He was tame, but still a beast. He was sweet, but wild. When he whinnied, the whole barn shook.
We went out as a group into the fields. We walked. We trotted. It was a beautiful day. But then something happened that I couldn’t see or hear. Tarzan got spooked. He took off, running.
I tried to slow him down. I pulled on the reins. I pushed down my heels. Nothing worked. I grew panicked. It probably only lasted about ten minutes, but it felt like forever on the back of a galloping horse. All I could do was wait for it to be over.
The older I get, the more I have learned how little there is that I can control. I have tried to slow time. I have tried to tighten the reins of my life. When I’ve felt threatened by change, I have dug in my heels.
But time continues to race forward. Things happen that I can’t see or hear or explain. And all I can do is wait, and hold on, and go along for the ride. All I can do is keep expecting the unexpected.
Tarzan didn’t stop until after I had fallen off. We had reached a wooden fence, much taller than any obstacle we had faced together inside the barn. When he went to jump, I got scared and let go. I have done this a few times since then. I have stopped when others kept moving. I have been intimidated by large obstacles ahead. I have been too afraid to leap.
He jumped over it without me.
But when he reached the other side, he slowed down, and waited, like a good and patient friend. I got up and slowly met him there. I climbed back on. Together, we trotted back to the barn.
And you can piece together the rest of the metaphor on your own. You know, the importance of getting back up on the horse. It’s a cliché because it’s true. I have learned no better lesson than how to keep going.
So keep going. Keep falling down and getting back up. Keep trying to enjoy the ride. Keep trusting that there is love waiting for you on the other side of your fear. Keep being patient with those you love. Keep taking risks. Keep leaping.
Go out into the fields. Walk. Trot. Gallop. Live so wildly that it shakes the whole barn.